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    Chicken, bacon and porcini barley ‘risotto’

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    Chicken, bacon and porcini barley ‘risotto’

    Earthy barley works beautifully with mushrooms and cider in this seasonal spin on a risotto.

    • Preparation time: 20 minutes
    • Cooking time: 1 hours
    • Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes 60 minutes 20 minutes

    Serves: 4 - 6


    30g dried porcini mushrooms
    ½ tbsp olive oil
    8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
    200g free-range beech smoked bacon lardons
    2 echalion shallots, finely sliced
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    300g pearl barley
    250ml dry cider, plus a glug
    500ml fresh chicken stock
    ½ savoy cabbage (about 300g), shredded into 2cm ribbons
    30g parmigiano reggiano, grated
    ½ x 25g pack chives, finely chopped


    1. Cover the mushrooms with 200ml just-boiled water and set aside to soak. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, wide, heavy-based pan. Season the chicken and fry for 6-8 minutes, until golden on all sides. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add the bacon and shallots to the pan and fry for 6-7 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the shallots have softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds, stirring continuously.

    2. Tip in the pearl barley and stir to coat the grains in the fat, then turn up the heat and add the cider; let it bubble away for 2 minutes until slightly reduced. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquor; roughly chop, then add to the pan with the soaking liquor and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then return the chicken thighs to the pan, with any resting juices, submerging them in the liquid. Lower the heat and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally and topping up with water if it starts to get too dry.

    3. Stir in the cabbage, add a splash more water and cover with a lid; cook for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage is tender and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat. Turn off the heat, carefully transfer the chicken thighs to a board, then put the lid back on the pan. Roughly shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bones. Stir the shredded chicken back through the risotto with most of the cheese and an extra glug of cider, then season and serve scattered with the chives and remaining cheese.

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